One of the reasons so many people prefer inflatable boats over other types of boats is because of the convenience they provide. Besides being lightweight, they’re extremely easy to store.
Since they can be fully deflated, storage is straightforward.
However, some users don’t like to constantly inflate and deflate their boats and prefer leaving them in the water. While this can be more convenient and save you a bit of time, we would not recommend it.
This is one of the main reasons for barnacles appearing on your inflatable boat.
If you’re in this position, you need to resolve it as soon as possible. However, you don’t have to stress yourself out about it – we can help you with this process.
Because biofouling, aka the barnacles, is a complicated topic, we have prepared a guide on all things barnacles. In this guide, we cover everything, from what damage they cause to how to prevent them and, most importantly, how to remove them.
With this guide, you no longer have to worry about this troublesome marine growth on your beloved inflatable boat. Continue reading to learn how to combat this unsightly problem.
Table of Contents
- What Do Barnacles Cause to Inflatable Boats?
- How to Remove Barnacles From Inflatable Boats
- How to Prevent Barnacles on Boats
What Do Barnacles Cause to Inflatable Boats?
Barnacles may seem harmless, but this is not the case. This marine growth can have a huge impact on your boat’s performance.
Do Barnacles Damage Boats?
The simple answer is yes.
Barnacles can be unsightly, but this isn’t where the negative aspects end. They can also affect your inflatable boat’s hydrodynamics.
The biofouling makes the regular smooth bottom of your boat rough and can create hull drag. This, in turn, can reduce your inflatable boat’s speed and consume more fuel.
If there’s too much barnacle buildup in the wrong places, this can even be dangerous – if the barnacles cover components like propellers, this can result in damage to your engine.
In addition to damaging your inflatable boat, barnacles can also be sharp and result in cuts on your body, particularly on your feet. Hence, barnacles are not only damaging but also dangerous.
It should also be noted that you cannot deflate and store your inflatable boat out of the water unless the barnacles are removed, making the process even more important.
How to Remove Barnacles From Inflatable Boats
Once barnacles harden on your inflatable boat, removing them can be a tough job. While the process itself isn’t very complicated, removing barnacles can be labor-intensive.
Follow the methods below to bring your inflatable boat back to life and restore it to its former glory.
Preparation Is Key
Before tackling barnacle removal, there are certain steps to take to make the job as easy as possible.
The most important of these steps is to remove your inflatable boat from the water. Unless you’re willing to source diving equipment, you can’t remove barnacles with your boat still moored.
Method 1: Leave It in the Sun
One way to kill the barnacles on the bottom of your inflatable boat is to turn the boat upside down and leave it in the sun. Leaving it out for a day should be enough to kill the barnacle growth on the bottom of the inflatable boat.
After this, you can proceed with scraping, scrubbing, and, eventually, removing the remaining calcium deposits. We have covered that later in the article.
However, most anglers and boat owners don’t want to leave their boats out in the sun because of UV damage. In this case, there are a couple of other options you can use to remove the barnacles.
Method 2: Scrape Away
This is the part where the hard work comes in – scrape away at the barnacles to remove them.
Just make sure that the scraper you use isn’t made of metal – plastic will be much gentler on your boat. Other tools you can use include old credit cards and durable kitchen spatulas.
We also recommend wearing gloves during this part to avoid cutting your hands on the barnacles.
Method 3: Use a Pressure Washer
If you don’t want to put in too much elbow grease, you can always use a power washer to remove barnacles from your inflatable boat. However, make sure to use it on a low or medium setting, so you don’t accidentally puncture your inflatable boat.
- For best results, use the power washer at an angle
- Focus on getting under the edge of the barnacles by spraying parallel to the hull
- Work on small sections until you’re done
- Be careful about barnacles flying when they get loose and wear protective gear
This method removes the loose barnacles but may not get them all. Going in with a scraper is your best bet to remove the remaining barnacles.
Before opting for this method, remember that power washing works best on dry barnacles and may not be very effective on wet barnacles.
Therefore, it requires leaving the boat and the barnacles to dry for weeks before removing them. If you would like to use your inflatable boat sooner, this may not be the best method for you.
Method 4: Use a Specialized Product
To make the removal process as easy as possible, you can opt to use products designed to deal with barnacle removal. These are easy and quick to use – just follow these steps:
- Apply the product to the barnacles with a roller or sprayer
- Make sure that the barnacles are completely covered
- Leave the product on for 30-60 minutes until the barnacles become soft
- Scrub off the growth with a brush or scraper
- Rinse off the product with water
- Repeat if needed
Before applying the product, remember to protect yourself. This includes protecting your eyes and using a respirator.
Our favorite barnacle-removing products include the Aurora Inflatable Bottom Spray , the MaryKate On & Off Hull & Bottom Cleanery , and the Star Brite Boat Bottom Cleaner . We recommend the Aurora Inflatable Bottom Spray because it’s formulated with inflatables in mind.
Removing Calcium Rings
Although the barnacles may have been removed by this point, you may notice calcium rings left behind. These limescale-like rings can be removed by using acidic solutions.
Do not use a sander or harsh scrubbers to remove the calcium rings. Otherwise, you’ll end up damaging your inflatable boat in the process. Use the following solutions for optimal results.
People are skeptical of this substance and often ask experts the question, “Will vinegar remove barnacles from my boat?”
While vinegar does not help remove barnacles from inflatable boats, it can certainly work wonders when it comes to the calcium rings they leave behind.
Avoid using vinegar alone to clean your inflatable boat to prevent any damage to the materials used to make the inflatable boat. Use the following steps instead.
- Mix vinegar and with a bit of dishwashing soap to make a limescale-removing solution
- Apply this solution to the calcium rings on the bottom of the boat
- Leave this solution on for a few hours
- Once the calcium is loosened, use a hose to wash the inflatable boat
Citric Acid Powder
Vinegar is suitable for tackling a few calcium rings. However, if your barnacle problem is more severe, you should consider using citric acid powder instead.
The carboxylic acid in citric acid is more concentrated than that in vinegar, and this helps to tackle the problem more effectively. Use the following steps:
- Mix the citric acid with water to make a solution
- Apply the solution to the calcium deposits and leave it on for a few hours
- Once the calcium deposits have loosened, wash off the rings
This is the quickest way to remove the calcium deposits on your inflatable boat but comes with considerable risks. While hydrochloric acid won’t burn through your inflatable boat, it might harm your skin.
Because working with this acid is dangerous, you need to take precautions and wear protective gear such as gloves. If you do decide to use it, use the following steps:
- Mix 35% muriatic acid (a form of hydrochloric acid) with a sodium bicarbonate solution
- Apply it to the calcium rings
- Wait 10-20 minutes before washing the solution off
How to Prevent Barnacles on Boats
The best way to prevent barnacles on inflatable boats is by not leaving them in the water for extended durations. However, if this is necessary, consider investing in anti-fouling bottom paint.
This solution works wonders for inflatable boats and lasts for up to a year. Our favorite has to be the TotalBoat Inflatable Boat Bottom Paint which is water-based and formulated for inflatable boats.
- Water-based ablative antifouling paint for Hypalon, PVC, and rubber inflatable boats
- Durable, flexible coating won't crack or flake off when boats are deflated and rolled up
Hopefully, this article has solved all barnacle-related questions and queries. Let us know whether you found it helpful and how you have tackled barnacle growth in the past or are doing so currently – good luck!